"Ecoful Town" illustrates how public-private-community efforts can achieve a low carbon society in Japan

Whether it is the Toyota Prius, the hybrid vehicle that started it all and continues to be the vehicle of choice for eco-conscious drivers till date or the Ecoful Town in Japan – a city wide project that embraces a fully green community concept by adopting hybrid technology in its entirety – Toyota’s vision for an eco- friendly future is one that has persistently achieved positive results and has demonstrated the brand’s commitment to promote eco-conscious alternatives in the global society.

Having acquired the top position for the third time in a row on the Best Global Green Brand list, it is evident that Toyota’s green efforts towards a cleaner environment have been recognized and well- received around the world. From development and design and production, to logistics and sales – the objective to reduce energy consumption is ingrained in every facet of the brand’s underlining philosophy and is a prime reflection of the brand’s efforts to be environmentally responsible.

The Ecoful Town in Japan stands as a shining example of the brand’s strenuous efforts in promoting an eco-future lifestyle. The concept is the nation’s first area that integrates next generation environmental technology to secure an active and attractive Low Carbon Society.

It all began when the Japanese government selected the Toyota City in 2009 to serve as a model city for the environment. The decision took into consideration the brand’s high targets for Carbon reduction and their plans to offer solutions to combat the global warming problem. Between 1990 and 2010, Toyota City had already reduced the CO2 footprint by 9% - a statistic that quickly gained traction and paved way for the foundation of this one-of-a-kind project that embraces an eco-friendly approach.

The Ecoful Town is a projection of a bright future for the environment. It is a concept that harnesses maximum potential of hybrid technology, with a promise of a better and greener tomorrow, and emphasizes upon the importance of cleaner forms of energy, while also demonstrating how alternate forms of energy can stimulate the reduction of carbon footprints. By the year 2030, Toyota City plans to reduce its CO2 footprint by 30 percent and cut completely in half by 2050.

Located in the city center, the Ecoful Town is a fully green community that embraces cutting-edge environmental technology at its best. The Smart Houses in the community are opening a new window into greener living concepts by incorporating a solar power generation system, which enables the best possible use of electricity, a hybrid home-charging station and the Home Energy Management System (HEMS).

By using the in-home HEMS feature, residents can better understand and analyze the home’s total energy consumption. The system, thereby, presents them with data that can effectively help them to optimize energy consumption. The technology can generate data such as the amount of electricity used by a particular room or the amount of energy used by time period, etc.

This technology constitutes the bigger Smart Melit (Mobility and Energy Life in Toyota City) project, which is a low-carbon society system verification experiment. In this process, the electricity generated by solar power generation systems is channeled towards HEMS, which is connected to 67 sub-divided residential homes. These units are further linked to the Energy Data Management System (EDMS) that is designed to reduce carbon emissions and to minimize the consumption of electricity – helping raise increased awareness about energy conservation.

In addition, the community next-generation Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) is another unique concept providing an advanced safety support system designed to deal with traffic management.

Other key features such as a low-carbon transportation system, contribution from the local industry, moss covered pavilions, parking lots with water-retaining asphalt, grass parking spaces, hydrogen-fueling stations, restaurants constructed with local timbre that use ingredients from local produce and more make up the Low Carbon Society structure at the Town.

Toyota’s commitments towards a sustainable ecosystem are also deep-rooted in the brand’s extensive line up of eco-friendly cars such as electric and hybrid cars and fuel cell vehicles. From this fleet, Toyota’s Prius family has emerged as a recurrent winner of the Greenest Vehicle ratings year after year. The Prius C, Toyota’s compact addition to the Prius family, occupied the first top spot in its category (Hybrid) on the ‘Greenest Vehicles of 2014’ list generated by the American Council for an Energy- Efficient Economy. Two other members of the Prius family also made it to the list once again.

Looking at the future, Toyota's upcoming eco- friendly operations are already in full swing, with the ongoing marketing of 20 hybrid vehicles and the launch of 19 new and fully redesigned models by 2015. Plans to introduce full hydrogen fuel cell cars in the same year are also underway.

The response to Toyota’s environmental initiatives to encourage the mass-market adoption of hybrid vehicles has also been remarkable. Toyota’s annual hybrid vehicle sales topped the 6 million-unit mark as of December 31, 2013 with 6.072 million units.

According to Toyota's calculations as of the end of last year, the global sales of its hybrid vehicles have resulted in approximately 41 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions and have saved approximately 15 million kiloliters of gasoline compared to the amount that would have emitted and used by gasoline-powered vehicles of the similar size. These overwhelming figures resonate with Toyota’s ever- growing passion towards a cleaner tomorrow and a sustainable ecosystem.

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